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Konnichi Wa!!

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Diary Entries

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Location: Japan

Hey there!!

It's been a while and things have been quite hectic here. The months are just flying by. SO this year I turned 25 and seeing as how it is a milestone birthday I decided to do something memorable and unforgettable. I decided to go skydiving. Well I've always wanted to go this was just an excuse to fork over so much money for something that lasts only an hour or so. I'm probably going to need to take out a loan to celebrate my 50th at this rate (and I"ll need a whole year to recover from it too)!! It might have happened so quickly but it'll definitely last a lifetime in my mind!!

So the week leading up to my birthday was pretty shit...busy as hell with work. I started back at the college so no more lax mornings or sleeping in past 9!!! Vacation is over!! Dammit!!! Friday I had to get up early to go the mechanics by 9am and then taught from 11-8:30pm. After work I met up with Mary and we went and watched indoor soccer for a bit...cause I wanted to check out the pick up league to see if I could play but I wanted to make sure I wasn't out of my league before I signed up. 1:30-2am I was in bed cause Saturday i had to work from 8:30-1:30. Work went really fast and great...even the 2year old I teach who had a huge tantrum for 30minutes last time I taught her was an angel and was actually understanding things and was GREAT!! After work I had to drive all the way back home to pick up my car cause on friday then found a small problem with the wheel and had to order a part. So basically I wasted 2 hours driving up and back but hey it was a beautiful day and the leaves are all changing colors so I didn't mind. I got to Mary's and we hung out there for a bit...Mary was getting her costume for the halloween party at Spiders ready. Atsushi (an old friend who also went bungee jumping with us last month) calls me at this point letting me know that he got sunday off and can go skydiving. So I get him to call the place and confirm that's it's ok for him to jump and it's all cleared and set for sunday morning. We then went to Ueda but had an hour to kill before Michiko's wedding party/bachelorette shindig. So we got into our costumes and took purikura at the jusco...we got a lot of stares but it was a blast!! AFter like 30minutes with michiko and a few girls we took off to go to Miyota. We went to the bar - 3000 all you can drink and hung out there until 3:15ish ... such a great time cause I haven't seen most of those people in over 6 months!! My first time going there was halloween 2 years ago and it was a blast so anytime they had a DJ even I went (which was pretty much once a month). I started to get to know everyone even though nobody speaks english. It's always a fun time cause it's like Cheers (the tv show) when I walk in... Everybody knows your name...literally everyone there knows me and there's hugs all around and quick formalities. I always feel really bad cause I know maybe only half of the people but everyone seems to know me. I'm pretty easy to remember...I stand out being the only foreigner!! Like last year this year there was cake and a happy birthday song for me from the guys!! They are such great people!

at 3:15am I decided it was probably time to head out cause we had to be in Saku by 4. So we leave and I drive to saku IC. where we are meeting matt, chris, kaori and atsushi. 4am arrives and Atsushi, Mary and I are there but Matt, Kaori and Chris are late cause they went out drinking the night before in Ueda and had only woken up at 3:45 when I messaged them. So they arrive...drunk and hungover ... by 4:30-5ish and we head out to Tochigi. I'm driving Chris, Matt, Mary and Atsushi is driving his Harley!! Which I totally want now!! haha ...that'll be my 30th bday present to myself a harley and trip someplace on it!! Kaori didn't come cause she changed her mind after she got to saku. By 8am we are in Tochigi and after many conbini stops for food and toilet...and money we are at the skydiving place. which is just an open field with a couple of tarps on the ground some cars parked and random people hanging about. We watch a 2min. video on the jump and sign our life away on a japanese only liability release form. After a 1 minute instruction on what to do when we jump we wait about for a while until we get called to put a suit on. Since only 2 people can jump at a time (the helicopter can only hold 4 ppl -2 jumpers and 2 teachers) one of us had to go ended up being me. Which was no problem cause I also could go first!!! Me and another guy got suited up strapped in and met our tandem buddy...but we had to wait around cause it was spitting a little but in the sky it was raining pretty hard apparently. Incredibly nervous that we might not be able to go up we hang about and chat for a bit. Finally it's cleared up a little and we can go but we can't get photos or video. I was a little disappointed but also absolutely ecstatic cause we were going. the heli arrives and I jump in with the other 3 guys. I was nervous at this point but mostly just thankful that I was able to go. The heli flies forward for a while then shoots straight up in the air (no joke it was a 90 degree angle!!) Such a fun ride...I wish I sat in the front tho cause the guy that did got to fly for a bit...just a second or two but he still got to do it!! After 10 minutes we arrived at 3800m roughly and it was time to get strapped into our jumping buddy. So i knelt down and Ryo (my tandem buddy) strapped himself in. It's funny how close you get (both physically and emotionally) ... I just met him but I felt like he was an old friend...probably cause I was trusting him with my life and I was now sitting on his lap. The door is opened up and I put on my goggles and gloves. I shake hands with the other 2 guys and wish them a safe jump. I shake Ryo's hand and say thank you...he says to wait to we touch ground (this makes me laugh but also a little nervous). I look at the other jumper...out the window ... double check my gloves...back at the other guy...WHAT...he's gone!! ALREADY! that quick...just a second ago I was shaking his hand. NOt even a sound or a goodbye...just disappeared in the blink of an eye. That made my heart skip a beat. Then Ryo says ok lets go and we half crawl half slide to the edge of the heli. I put a foot out on the ledge and look out into the white rain...I can see some ground if I look really hard but basically it's pure rain!! flying by...or down...i'm not sure which way it was going at this point cause Ryo was already at 2 in his count to jump. Hands holding onto the straps on my chest and chin up like they instructed I lean forward pulling Ryo with me out the heli. it's pure white then all of a sudden we flip over and I see the helicopter shrinking as we fall to the ground...then within a blink of the eye we were facing the ground (aka white hole) I feel a tap on my shoulder which signals I can put my hands out and stop holding the strap on my chest. With a giant grin from ear to ear we fall....and I think to myself ... holy crap the rain is killing my face and I can't breathe cause when I open my mouth it fills so quickly with air I can't fill my lungs and my cheeks/lips are flapping around like a dogs when it hangs out the window of a car. The rain felt like bullets so I covered up my face but made sure I could still see. Then before I knew it...we were out of the rain and it was clear skies and you could see the ground clearly. Looking around and enjoying the view for a bit when Ryo shouts that he's going to let the parachute out. There's a jolt (much more painful than bungee jumping) and I slip down a bit...not sure if this is what's suppose to happen or the harness was looser than it was suppose to but one of the straps actually hurt my neck when I slipped down. either way it was a little rough but not something I wouldn't be willing to endure again!! haha Ryo then asks me if I want to fly...(not that he had to ask)...He gives me the ropes/straps to the parachute and instructs me on what do and how far to pull my hands down. We sail around in circles for a while and I realized how much upper arm strength you need to control the from today on I will be working my arms out so that one day soon I'll be able to do it all myself!! I hand over the straps to Ryo and we coast slowly to the ground then before I know it we are getting ready to land and we are on the ground!! I was so thrilled after landing it was awesome the adrenalin...I just wanted hug Ryo or run someplace but didn't know where and hugging him might freak him out so after getting my certificate and shaking hands with him and the other jumper...saying thank you and bowing a million times like an idiot I head to chris and atsushi cause mary and matt are already on their way up for their jump!! Skydiving is the GREATEST thing I've done by a long shot. PURE joy ...Bungee is SCARY but awesome feeling afterwards...skydiving doesn't have that scary aspect like Bungee...just pure, complete, utter satisfaction!!! The others went and I became the photographer who was one a 100% natural high!! I just can't wait to go again!! After everyone jumped and recounted their take off and jump, around 12...we head to the outlet store to get some food and chillax before the drive back. by 2:30 we are on our way home. Slightly exhausted having had no sleep since friday night I down some coffee to help me stay awake for the drive ahead while Mary chats to me the guys pass out in the back. We make it back to Komoro with only a few wrong turns and depart ways with Atsushi!! It was so great having him there... he's such a fun guy to hang out with!! We continue on to Ueda and drop Chris and Matt off...Then to Chikuma to drop Mary off. then the final stop...Kurohime. By 10pm I am parked in front of my house and gathering my trunk full of shit to bring into the house. by 10:30 I was in bed..completely and utterly exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. I didn't even bother unpacking just dropped my bags in the middle of the floor...washed my face brushed my teeth and dropped happily into bed. How great was it to close my eyes. As fast as the guy disappeared from the heli I fell asleep (probably with a smile on my face even)!!! It was by far my best birthday!! I thought last year paragliding and canyoning with Yuki (my best friend) was going to be hard to beat but this year ended up slightly higher (probably mostly because while driving back this year I didn't get a phone saying that I was out of work cause my company went bankrupt and wasn't going to pay us the 3 months in back wages!!). It's absolutely insane how much has changed in a year! So that's how I spent the week of my bday!! I have to say that Mary has been such a great friend and I'm SO happy it was her that was there sharing this experience with me!! It made a world of a difference and she definitely made my 25th bday a memorable one!!

Monday morning reality alarm is going and I have to get to work but this week just seems so much easier to through than last week and I feel slightly more relaxed and at ease with things despite the fact that this week is worse than last week for work Meh...I have to face life head on....can't just jump out of planes for the rest of my life. Or can I......(note to self...research becoming a skydiving tandem dude).

So thats my story...and I'm sticking to it!! This week is filled with candy and halloween lessons so hopefully there aren't any major problems that arise!

Over and Out!!
MIss you all and hope everyone is well!! I'll be seeing you soon!!

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Recent Messages

From Marian
Hello again. Hope this message still finds you well. Sounds like your summer is pretty good doing all kinds of new and exciting trials. Soon it's Sept already. Only 6 wks left till my time off forever. It was a busy summer for us. Always things happening and do. Joé and Michelle are going to have a baby early Jan. and we are all very, very excited. I found a renter for the apartment downstairs where I live. Did some outdoor painting and organized couple more flower gardens. I'm refinishing an old wooden swing in my spare time. John and I went to Toronto for few days and spent couple days at Mt. Tremblant with a girlfried....and that covers my summer. Till next time, keep well.
Response: Wow!! Sounds like your summer has been pretty busy and exciting as well!! Give my congratulations to Joe and Michelle!!! That's fantastic news!! So you only have a little over a month left before retirement!! I"m envious!! Have you picked a date to come to Japan yet then!!? hahaha. You must be so excited to have unlimited free time - I know I would be! Thanks for the update!! Hope you have a great autumn as well and the last few weeks of work are fun-filled!!
From Marian
Hi..Just checking up on you again. Great pictures. We are all well here in Gatineau. Weather is quite hot and humid. Doing lots of gardening this year and still working at the job for now. Keep well and talk to you soon.
Response: Hey! Glad to here that you are getting out and enjoying the weather - despite it being hot and humid! It's pretty bad here too. already over 30 degrees and that doesn't include humidity. This weekend I'm going to climb Mt. Fuji (over 3700m)!!! I'm really excited about it so after I'll upload some pictures and blog about the adventure!

Take care,
From marian
Bonjour you out there...good to read about you. Our ski season is over once again. I got 25 days in. Now onto the spring chores. Got my yearly cleaning stuff almost done. André is moving into his place by end of month so I will rent the apartment downstairs. That will keep me busy for awhile. Another 5-1/2 months before I retire then will play full time. Good to hear you are doing well and always looking forward to peeking on your site. Tomorrow is Amanda's baby shower and hope to see your Mom there and catch up with her. Keep well.....Later.
Response: Hi there!! Glad to hear you are doing well!! I'll expect a visit from you next winter since you are retiring and Japan is an amazing place to ski (or snowboard if you are feeling adventurous)!! Check out !

Good luck with the move and tell the boys I said hi!!

Hope you enjoyed the shower - I heard it was great!

Thanks for always checking out the site and leaving messages!
Talk to you soon!

From Marian
Hey...just checking up on you again. All is well in Gatineau. Will have skied 19 days by end of Dec. already. Not doing much else other than work. Keep well. Also, greetings from André and Joé.
Response:`re doing much better than me on the ski days and I LIVE on the hill! That`s a little sad on my part!! Nice for you though...don`t worry I`ve scoutede out the best places to go around here so if you ever decide to visit for some winter fun I`ll be ready for you!!
From Nancy
Great pictures Jessica. I have one of your parents at our annual Van Overbeek Christmas dinner which is really nice but I do not have a clue as how to send it to you. Will have to find out how its done. What does sake taste like, does it leave you with a hangover? Keep on writing, its so interesting.
Response: Hi Aunt Nancy!! I`d love to see that picture so if you can email it that`d be great! Sake is by far my favorite alcohol. If you get the good stuff which is still pretty cheap it tastes very smooth and you can drink it warm or cold depending on the weather or how you like it! The greatest part is that it doesn`t leave you with a hangover! haha. When I come back next I`ll bring back a big bottle so everyone can have a taste!!
From Marian
Just checking up on you....and can see all is well. It's snowing again and looks like we will be able to skate on the Canal early Feb. Got 9 months left till retirement.... Talk to you later. Play safe.
Response: 9 Months left to retirement!!!?? You`re so lucky!! I wish that was the case for me! hahah. It`s snowing again here too so that means more snowboarding and skiing as well! Going to head out this weekend again...hopefully it`ll be nice weather and I`ll post some pics of the hills around here just in case you feel like travelling next winter for skiing....since you`ll be retired!!
From Marian
Just want to wish you HAPPY HOLIDAYS. We had the boxing day dinner and it was very good as always. We talked about you and how well things are going for you. All the best to you and hope to see you in 2008....
Response: Hi!! Glad to hear boxing day dinner was great! Luckily next year I`ll be down for the holidays as long as things don`t change too drastically between now and then!!! I`m really looking forward to it too!!!

Have you gone out skiing a lot!? You should see the snow here! It doesn`t seem to stop. I`ve been cross-country skiing a few times and snowboarding! It`s amazing living in the relaxing. Like I`m on holidays everyday all day!!
From Nancy
Hi Jessica----Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Gauthier clan in St-Telesphore---I just love to check in once in a while and read up on all the news in Japan-----take care
Response: Hi Aunt Nancy and everyone!!! It`s nice to hear from you! Hope you had a great Christmas and Happy holidays!! Thank you so much for checking in and reading up on some of the news!!
From Marian
Wow...that's a lot of good news. Can it get any better for you? That's great. I'm happy to hear you are learning to ski. Maybe next winter we can do some turns together. It's snowing here at the moment and we've had a good dump earlier this week. Vive the snow. Looking forward to some new pictures. Bon weekend to you and play safe.
Response: Ya I think the same thing every day but every day it gets better! I`m incredibly lucky!! Sorry about the pictures Aunt Maddy, I`ve been trying to upload some from my friends computer but it doesn`t work. Next weekend I`ll try at a different friends house. Cross your fingers - so for sure by the new year there will be a lot more photos for you to look at.
From Marian
Bonjour Jessica:
Happpppiessstttt Birthday to youuuuu. Will be thinking about you all day. May there be many more. Ottawa/Gatineau is rainy lately. Booked 24 ski days for this winter and first day is Nov. 25. Should be another fun year on those white hills. Other than that we are working hard.
Response: Thanks Aunt Maddy!! Too bad about the weather but great that you are already planning for the winter!! Hopefully your winter is a good one for skiing!
From Kory
Glad I hung out with your Mom yesterday, otherwise I couldn't have wished you a "Happy Birthday from the whole bunch of us !" Hope you have a great day ! Take care ....
Response: Thanks Kory for the Birthday wishes!! Hope all is well with you and the family!! Tell Uncle Paul I said Hi!!
From mom and dad
Hi Jess,
Good to see you are back with updates on your blog. always like to hear about your adventures and misadventures too. Didn't know that grasshoppers had a lot of calcium. I'll stick to milk , thank you very much ! Sayonora
From Marian
Bonjour Jessica:
Glad to hear you managed a safe trip back. Peeked at some of your pictures and they look good. We are busy at work and boys are doing well...building, building, and building. Soon it will be time to store the summer toys and out with the winter ones...All the news from here. Keep well.
Response: Hey aunt Maddy !! Thanks for your notes and don:t know how much I love them and look forward to them!! Glad to hear you and the boys are doing well!! Hope you enjoy the winter! I know I will be trying to get to the hills a little more often this year. I will try to post more often and more photos too! Take care,

From Marian
Bonjour Jessica:
Great pictures. Interesting to visit another part of the world. Ottawa weather is nicely warming up. Work keeps everyone busy. André is back for the summer. He's working at a place where they install windows and doors. Joé is going to start building another house soon. We are all looking forward to your visit in August. This weekend Anthony is having a 40th birthday bash at his place in Constance Bay. I hope to see your parents there cause I've not seen or heard from them in awhile.
Be good and see you soon,
Marian and boys
Response: Hi !!
It's great to get updates every once and a while! THANK YOU!
Glad to hear everyone is doing well and keeping busy. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone and catching up in August as well...there's so much that I've missed! Hope the birthday bash is a good one- wish Uncle Anthony a happy birthday for me!
See you all soon!
From Kim Baxter
OKay you really need to get out of Japan fast. Or at least write me a message every other day so i know you're okay! Every day I read the newspaper and something tragic has happened somewhere in Japan. I know it's a relatively large area to cover, but I don't know where you are at all times... this must change! HA The last thing that I read was that one lady died and dozens were injured when a roller coaster broke? OK I'm just saying a quick hello would ease my worries!
Hope your still doing your thing! I'm leaving for Chicoutimi in 4 days...AH
bye for now
Response: KIMMERS!! I"M ALIVE and well. I promise from now on I will msg you every day to say where I am but seriously stop reading the news....or at least the international news. I could be living in a war zone after all! Good luck in Chicoutimi!! You'll love it I"m sure...try to stay out of trouble! I'll be msging you tomorrow !! hahah
From Marian
Bonjour Jessica:
Just visited your site and glad to hear you are making the best of it. What a great experience for you. Wish it was not so far or I would come visit you. But then if you stay long enough I will make it a point to see you. I'll be retiring from work next year and will have plenty of time to plan so don't come home too soon. André is coming back from Edmonton today and taking a break. It will be great to see him. Joé is busy builing this and that. He got his 4-wisdom teeth pulled out this week and is feeling a little under the weather but he'll survive this one. Skiing is over for the year and I've managed to put in 26 days. Now it's time to take out the summer toys. Bicycling is in order and lots of gardening and reading and relaxing. I'm have my driveway paved this week and André will build me some flower beds for me to keep putting around in for this summer. Things are looking good and all is well for us in Gatineau. Keep up the good and play safe.
Aunty Marian and Boys
Response: Looks like it's a busy time for you guys too! lucky I wish I could retire now! hahaha! I'll be in Japan for another year at least so you (and anyone else) are more than welcomed to take advantage of it. Not much to see where I live but let me know if you are coming down and I can show you around some places that you want to see-like KYOTO!! Glad to hear everything is going well with you and the boys- I look forward to seeing you all in August!
From grandma hagen
hello minnie mouse girl ! nice
to see you having some good
times there to ! and looking
great !maybe I sould go there
for a while for better looks !
keep it up Jess. love to see you pics. looking forward to
see you in Aug.!! love grandma.
Response: Hi Grandma!! I love hearing from you!! That would be GREAT if you came for a visit- I'd even go to disneyland again with you!! haha! When I book my flight I'll let you know and we can set up a day when I can visit! Looking forward to the holidays too!!
Just had a look at the Disneyland photos,its nice to see you in the them. Looks like you were having the time of your life. Guess that no rides scare you yet, at least not that you say. Glad you had a good time.Keep it up.
Mom and Dad

i gues
Response: Still would've preferred a note in the mail!! hahaha
From Melissa
Okay, I just read your post "you know you're in Japan to long when" and I was dying laughing...not because I know what this is like, but because I already know you do half of these things! I even remember you telling me about the squid pizza!
I see you bowing all the time, and apologizing a hundred times like you've said your students and peers do to you...I even see you wearing that crazy tshirt, like it is a inside
Anyways, I have one those fingers when you come home for the wedding...I am going to make you hold the bouquet all night, and you still are going to be showing the peace sign!!! hahah...doesn't bother me, I think it's hilarious!

Response: don't worry Melissa, I'll hold back for your wedding- just for you!! hahah
From Heather
hi jess! been quite a while since i left a message. that's awesome that you're learning more japanese... i think i've had the same experience with french where you just go for it and then everyone stares at you... they correct you then you move on and make the same mistakes again... i remember doing that in france. the worst was trying to explain outdoor rec in french, sooooo hard!!! so i'm getting closer i think to being accepted into college for photography. my interview at humber went well yesterday so now i just need to mail off other portfolios and wait. hope everything else is well!!
Response: hey heather!! Its great to hear from you!! I'm really glad everything is going so great with you! Good luck with the final steps with your application! Let me know when you find out for sure!! I'll send you an email sometime in the next month when I find out when I get back to Canada- and then maybe we can all meet up sometime in Toronto!? Glad everything is going well...take care!
From TIM
Just wanted to wish you a HAPPY VALENTINE's DAY!!
Hope you enjoyed the day!
Can't wait to chat soon!!
Response: thanks Tim! Loved the email! Just let me know when I can call and I'll call!
From Kory
Tell me its not too late to wish you all the best in the New Year. Gawd, I must be quite the pansy, I browse thru yor pics, read your notes and get goose bumps ! Matter of fact got'em now! This is beyond cool, love your pics (the yellow puckered lip fella is hilarious!) Take care
Response: Hey Kory!! no don't worry about the new years wish- I'm still sending out some too actually!! hahah. Thanks for the note- nice to hear what people think. I'm sure you're not a pansy things always seem more extreme or funny or hard to do when it's not you doing it. Thanks again! Hope you and the kids are enjoying the snow!! Take care,
From Melissa
Happy New Year Jess!
We sure missed you around for Christmas and New Years, but glad to see that you are having a blast experiencing new things.
I hope work is going well. Keep us posted on your stories, we all enjoy hearing them. Talk to you soon!
Response: Hello stranger- I've been hanging around online but you never seem to be online- I'll keep on writing my stories don't know how interesting they are to other people but at least I get a kick out of them!
From Marian
Bonjour Jessica:
Merry Christmas to you from Gatineau. We sure do wish you all the best and lots of fun. Boxing Day get together was a lot hoot. I'm all up to date with the going on's of most everyone. We are all busy in our own environment. André came back from Edmonton and it is really good to have him around. I've got couple days of work and then to the ski hills for a couple days of sunshine and exercise. Jessica, we wish you all the best of everything in the New Year 2007. Will keep in touch.
Response: Hello! Thanks so much for the update and the good wishes- you're lucky to be going skiing! I'm going to try to get out to the hill sometime in January but no real snow (at least not enough) first snow was on the 29th but just enough to cover the ground!! Glad to hear all is well back home and I wish you all a great new year filled with new hope, new beginnings, and new adventures!
From mom and dad
Its Sunday morning and alls quiet here, so we thought we would just wish you a Merry Christmas eve and look forward to our rendevous tommorrow, sure miss you here.
love Mom and Dad
Response: too bad skype wasn't really working would have been nice to have a video call!! Either way it was nice to see everyone and the house. Missing everyone from home too and I'll be thinking of you all eating a great turkey dinner when I have my sushi! :)